One year mandatory ignition interlocks considered for repeat DUI

Those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol would be required to install ignition interlock devices for a minimum of one year under a bill heard by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee Feb.19.

Current law requires a 45-day revocation of an offender’s license with an optional requirement to install an ignition interlock device for the remaining balance of the one-year probation period.

Under LB158, introduced by Hastings Sen. Les Seiler, those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol would receive a mandatory 45-day driver’s license revocation after which they would be permitted to install an ignition interlock device for at least one year.

Seiler said the bill was introduced to bring Nebraska into compliance with a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) mandate that requires repeat DUI offenders to have such devices installed for at least one consecutive year.

Randy Peters, director of the state Department of Roads, testified in support of the bill, saying the state was penalized prior to receiving any notice about the revised mandates that took effect in 2012. The department will continue to be penalized until Nebraska is in compliance, he said.

No one testified in opposition to the bill.

Coleen Nielsen, representing the Nebraska Criminal Defense Attorneys Association, provided neutral testimony, saying the 45-day license suspension is problematic for offenders who must attend work, school or alcohol treatment programs. The state would remain in compliance with the federal law if the 45-day license suspension were removed, she said.

“We should keep people driving within the law instead of driving while they are suspended,” Nielsen said.

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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